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One of the reasons I built my workshop/studio several years ago was to have a place where I can show my work to prospective customers, and help them decide what works best for their particular needs and wants. I can also discuss and show different framing options, show comparative sizes, and most importantly get to know them better.

Mostly I enjoy giving visitors a chance to hold prints in their own hands to really see what they like best. There are times however when people have a hard time making a final selection. Not everyone is sure about what they want, and when they see my printed portfolio, they often see other images they like as well.

Some of the more common questions I get are:
  • “How do I choose from such a large selection?”
  • “I can’t decide which I like better.” or similarly,
  • “I like several…!”

My first thought is how flattering and humbling this is for me, and I always make it a point to let them know this. I also know that each person has their own personal preferences, and after some more review, they narrow down their choices rather easily. Through the selection process, I’ll discuss what motivates me to make photographs, and how that relates to particular images. I’ll also make suggestions and recommendations, so what follows are some thoughts and ideas based on my own experiences over years of selling prints that you might want to consider  in the future.

There are many reasons why you might choose a particular landscape photograph for your home or office.

  • It is a location you are familiar with, or a region you lived in.
  • You are looking for a specific color to enhance a room or create a certain ambiance in your home.
  • Maybe there’s an odd space that needs to be filled, so you are looking for a specific shape (a panorama.)

In the case of panoramas, many photographers, myself included, do not like to change the aspect ratio of a final image. Whenever I’m asked if an image can be made into a panorama, I explain that this changes the composition, which almost always will compromise the artistic and visual nature of the photograph. Not good…

Maybe you just like the way an image makes you feel. And this to me is the single most important reason to choose a photograph.

Ask yourself what is it that you want to achieve with the purchase of a landscape photograph.

  • Are you looking simply for a conversation piece, or something that will convey some emotion to you each time you look at the photograph?
  • When looking at a selection of photographs, are there any images that you connect with on first viewing?
  • Do you have any gut reactions or feelings that are hard to describe or put into words?

More often than not, the images that stand the test of time are the ones that go beyond location, or color, or size. They reach for something that goes beyond the visual, and touches you emotionally or spiritually. Ansel Adams said “A photo is usually looked at-seldom looked into.” A postcard image shows you a location, but a successful landscape photograph conveys what the photographer saw and “felt.” This interpretation is what separates one photographer from another, and defines style and story telling.

Try and look “into” a photograph, and see if it resonates with some part of you. Almost always this will prove to be a much better reason to choose an image compared to any of the reasons I mentioned before. While you may enjoy a particular color or location at first, will you feel the same way in 5 or 10 years when that novelty wears off? You can be sure that an image that makes you feel something special inside will always connect with that part of your mind and heart.

When a photographer truly conveys what he feels through his images, you will feel that as well. When you do, that should be the reason you decide to choose an image over all others, and if it happens to be the shape you prefer, or contain the colors you want, then great. But if not, have an open mind, and let your positive feelings guide you – they are seldom wrong in retrospect.

As always, I appreciate your feedback and comments.

 

RR Jr

Experience your work in the real world. The Printmaker Masterclass is live and growing! Learn more here.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. This post gives me a very real sense of you in your studio helping people choose photographs. I’m sure that many people appreciate your kind guiding hand in helping them make a selection. Your studio sounds like the kind of place I would like to visit. The second half of your post, the portion after the italicized key phrase, is generally what I’ve found helps people appreciate the experience of acquiring and enjoying a photographic print. In my experience, most galleries steer people away from buying a print because it matches your decor or the couch. Your decor and even your house will completely change far sooner than the print you own. Decor is temporary, while the feeling of connection you have to a certain image lasts for a lifetime, if chosen well.

    1. I agree 100% especially in terms of your decor and environment changing much soon than your artwork. Nevertheless, it is always surprising how many people think first about complementing their current situation, so my goal was to draw attention to the truly important aspects of selecting a print – the connection to the work, as you also described.

      RR

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